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India

Told Modi privately that country shouldn’t be divided on religious lines: Obama

barack obama, File Photo

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New Delhi, Dec 1 (IANS) Former US President Barack Obama on Friday said he told Prime Minister Narendra Modi that India must not be split on sectarian lines and emphasised how the country must cherish the fact that Muslims here identify themselves as Indians.

“A country shouldn’t be divided on sectarian lines and that is something I have told Prime Minister Modi in person as well as to people in America,” Obama said at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit.

“…People see the differences between each other much too vividly and miss the commonalities. Commonalities are always based on gender and we need to focus on that,” Obama said.

Asked how Modi responded to his message on religious tolerance, Obama dodged a straight reply, saying his goal was not to disclose his private conversations.

But he said India’s majority community and government needed to cherish the fact that minorities, particularly Muslims, in India identify themselves as part of the Indian society.

“For a country like India where there is a Muslim population that is successful, integrated and considers itself as Indian, which is not the case in some other countries, this should be nourished and cultivated,” Obama said.

He said in a democracy the most important office was not the office of the President or Prime Minister but the office of the citizen who needed to question themselves about which ideology they encourage by supporting a particular politician.

“When you see a politician doing something questionable, ask yourself ‘Am I supporting this?’ Politicians are like mirrors which reflect the community’s view. If communities across India are saying they won’t fall prey to division, then it will strengthen the hand of politicians who feel that way.”

India

Congress leader Ahmed Patel dies from Covid complications

Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel passes away, tweets his son Faisal Patel

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New Delhi: Senior Congress leader Ahmad Patel died from Covid-related complications this morning, tweets his son Faisal Patel.

Ahmed Patel had tested positive for coronavirus on October 1. He was then admitted to the Intensive Care Unit of Medanta Hospital, Gurgaon for further treatment.

In a statement on Twitter, Mr. Faisal said that Ahmed Patel passed away at 3.30 am on November 25. “After testing positive for Covid-19 around a month back, his health worsened further due to multiple organ failures,” the statement went on to add.

He also requested well-wishers of his father to adhere to COVID-19 guidelines and avoid any mass gatherings to mourn the Congress leader’s demise. He was undergoing treatment at Medanta Hospital in Gurugram since November 15.

In a tweet on October 1, Ahmed Patel had announced, “I have tested positive for COVID-19. I request all those who came in close contact with me recently, to self isolate.”

Ahmed Patel has for long been the power centre in Congress being party president Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary. He had also earlier worked as Parliamentary Secretary for her husband Rajiv Gandhi in 1985. He was appointed the treasurer of the party in 2018 after the long time treasurer Motilal Vohra bowed out.

An eight-time parliamentarian, Ahmed Patel served three terms in the Lok Sabha and five terms in the Rajya Sabha. His last Rajya Sabha election in 2017 was heavily contested and included sequestering Gujarat legislators in Karnataka to avoid horse trading. He has always been the party’s troubleshooter and was the key leader to co-ordinate between Congress and other parties.

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Cities

Delhi Schools Unlikely To Reopen Until Covid Vaccine Is Available: Manish Sisodia

While several restrictions have been eased in different ‘unlock’ phases, educational institutions continue to remain closed.

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Manish Sisodia

Schools in the national capital which are closed due to the coronavirus pandemic are unlikely to reopen until a vaccine is available, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said on Tuesday.

Universities and schools across the country were closed on March 16, when the Centre announced a countrywide classroom shutdown as part of measures to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“Until we get some vaccine, schools (in Delhi) are not likely to open,” Sisodia, who is also Delhi’s Education Minister, told reporters.

He had announced on October 30 that schools will remain closed until further orders, saying parents were not in favour of sending their ward to schools yet.

“We keep getting feedback from parents that they are really concerned about whether it is safe to reopen schools. It is not. Wherever schools have reopened, COVID-19 cases among children have risen. So we have decided that as of now schools in the national capital will not reopen. They will continue to be closed till further orders,” Sisodia had said then.

A nationwide lockdown was imposed on March 25.

While several restrictions have been eased in different ‘unlock’ phases, educational institutions continue to remain closed.

According to ‘Unlock 5’ guidelines, states can take a call on reopening schools in phases. Several states also began the process of reopening schools. While some of them announced closure again due to rise in coronavirus cases.

Earlier, schools were allowed to call students from Class 9 to 12 to school on voluntary basis from September 21. However, the Delhi government decided against it.

Delhi recorded 4,454 fresh COVID-19 cases on Monday and a positivity rate of 11.94 per cent while 121 more fatalities pushed the death toll to 8,512, authorities said.

These relatively low number of fresh cases came out of the 37,307 tests conducted on Sunday, including 18,046 RT-PCR tests, according to the latest bulletin issued by the Delhi health department.

On last Friday, authorities had said that 23,507 RT-PCR tests, the highest till date, were conducted a day before.

The highest single-day spike till date here — 8,593 cases — was recorded on November 11 when 85 fatalities were recorded.

As many as 121 fatalities were recorded on Monday, same as the previous day.

This is the sixth time in the last 12 days that the daily number of deaths has crossed the 100-mark.

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India

Uttar Pradesh okays ordinance against conversion for marriage, violators face up to 10 yrs in jail

He said punishment under the new law is a jail term from one and five years, and a fine of Rs 15,000.

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Yogi Adityanth

Lucknow: The Uttar Pradesh government on Tuesday approved a draft ordinance to deal with religious conversion for the sake of marriage, which could land violators in jail for up to 10 years.

An official spokesperson said the state Cabinet gave its nod to the ordinance at its meeting chaired here by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

In recent weeks, BJP-run states like Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh have revealed plans to enact laws to counter alleged attempts to convert Hindu women to Islam in the guise of marriage, which Hindu activists refer to as love jihad .

“The way in which religious conversions are done using deceit, lies, force and dishonesty is heart wrenching, and it was necessary to have a law in this regard, Cabinet minister and UP government spokesperson Sidharth Nath Singh said.

He said punishment under the new law is a jail term from one and five years, and a fine of Rs 15,000.

But if the woman involved is a minor or belongs to a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe, the jail term would range from three to 10 years, he said. The fine would increase to Rs 25,000.

In the case of mass conversions, the punishment is from three years to 10 years and a fine of Rs 50,000 on the organisations which indulge in it,” the minister told reporters.

Singh said if anyone wants to change religion after marriage, then he or she can do so.

But the district magistrate has to be informed two months in advance in a prescribed form, and the person can convert once permission is granted.

He claimed that this will resolve law and order problems.

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